22 July 2012

Some sights for sore eyes

The uncertainty principle which I proposed here a couple of weeks back (the theory that the superior appeal of natural waters lies chiefly in the fact that it's harder to predict what might happen on any given session), was vindicated in fine style during an evening on the Grand Union canal.

Family commitments mean I don't often fish during the evenings, so I was looking forward to this opportunity to see the canal in a different light (literally) - hopefully after the boats had stopped for the day.

Sadly it turned out that boaters are busy much later than I thought, so by 8.30pm I'd endured (with as much good cheer as I could muster) a lot of boats, a lot of fast-flowing water between the locks, but no fish - not so much as a sucked maggot in fact.

As a last throw of the dice I moved a hundred yards or so to cast towards a bridge, and that's when the nights two big surprises happened.

The first was the most entertaining narrow boat that's ever passed by this angler - one crewed by six decidedly fair young ladies, each with a glass of wine in hand, and none (apparently) able to steer, since the boat was careering down the canal from bank to bank, crash to crash.

It was quite a sight, but as they crashed into the bank right in front of me I (only just) resisted the gallant urge to offer my skippering services, and instead returned to the matter in hand - avoiding a blank.

not a perch... and I'm afraid not easy to photograph
in the gathering gloom
And a few minutes later I did just that, albeit in the most unexpected fashion. The float dipped decisively, I struck, and could instantly feel the head-banging escape attempts of a good perch. A very good perch, judging by the curve my ultra light float rod was starting to take. Except this was no perch, and after a very good fight I was looking at the first eel I had ever caught.

Extremely exciting of course, but I do have just two slightly negative thoughts to share. Because if I had previously thought bream to be slimy and perch to be prone to deep hooking, that was because I'd not had an eel to compare them with. Because the eel, it turns out, is well covered in a slime which is just about unremovable from a landing net. It is also more than capable of getting a single maggot half way down its length in the time it takes the average angler to strike.

But what a fight from a sub-pound fish, and what a fantastic way to spend an evening on the local canal.

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